Kettering Health | Strive | Fall 2022

cosmetics, that was really awesome because we got to hear their stories, and that gave us hope.” She remembers one woman who had lost her hair and did not wear a hat or wig, an act that gave Connie the courage to face her future. As for the name of the class, Connie says it perfectly described the women she met. “When I think of ‘courageous’ I think of a lion. I think of something strong, something that doesn’t give up,” she says. “These women are courageous.” The day after attending Courageous Beauty, Connie began chemotherapy. Seven reasons why Connie admits she never imagined herself going through chemotherapy. She never pictured losing her hair or getting weaker as the treatment gets stronger. But one thing—or rather, seven—keeps her fighting through it all: her grandchildren. Connie’s seven grandchildren range in age from 4 to 19. She often looks at photos and cherishes her memories with them. She remembers them popping popcorn, snuggling up in her king-sized bed, and watching movies late at night. This became a tradition, what they call “midnight picnics.” “To clarify,” she adds with a laugh, “they weren’t at midnight, but they didn’t know.” Patient story —Continued from page 13 Staying present in their lives remains her greatest goal. “I’ll do whatever I can,” she says. “That’s my why. In those infusion chairs, that’s my why.” Highs and lows Connie’s favorite place to be is the ocean. After beginning treatment, she planned a trip to Florida with her family. Because of her chemotherapy, her oncologist warned her about excessive sun exposure, but Connie was determined to spend quality time with her loved ones. With SPF 50 sunscreen and UV-protective clothing, she took a dip in the ocean with the kids. Connie had taught all her grandchildren how to swim, so swimming in the ocean with them was a special moment. After enjoying the warm seawater, she retired to the shade of her cabana. Connie soaked in the perfection around her—the sun, the waves, her family—satisfied that she hadn’t let her diagnosis stop her from making memories. She felt in control. And then, while still on vacation, she began to lose her hair. Connie looked at herself in the bathroom mirror and watched the cancer remind her of its existence. She felt hopeless but thought about the brave women she met before beginning treatment. “I remembered those ladies in that class, being courageous lions, and that’s what I want to be,” she says. Connie found the courage inside of her to enjoy the rest of her vacation, despite losing her hair. The best medicine With the support of her loving family and hope from Courageous Beauty, Connie continues treatment and tries to make memories every day. She shares one piece of advice, something that keeps her moving forward throughout this journey: “Take those photos, take those videos of the people that you love the most,” she says. “Because when you’re not feeling so good, you can reflect back, and it’s the best medicine ever.” 14